Reflections On 2012, Looking Ahead To 2013

The end of the year brings both reflection and the need to look ahead. After writing for, and religiously following the other Engage:Men posts throughout this year, I decided to use this post to think about the gestalt of the year’s conversations. Short and sweet.

It seems to me there are several recurring themes that all speak to something similar: We, the men of today, are not our fathers. We’ve evolved as people and as consumers. And marketers do well to consider the new and far more complex definition of today’s guy.

Here are the threads I’ve read repeatedly. See if you agree.

  • Men are shoppers
    • Not just for tools and electronics; not just for things their wives or girlfriends send them out to get. They’re engaged and enjoy making choices for themselves

  • Men use mobile as a shopping tool
    • I won’t repeat stats here, but it is easy to cite that in many ways they are even more reliant on the device in their pocket for researching and navigating purchases
  • Men are researchers
    • They like facts and reviews, consistent with a more data-driven decision process

  • Men respond to earned and owned media
    • They value third-party opinions. And blogs (even Pinterest) are on their radar screen

  • Men increasingly care about fashion, grooming and self-image

    • The growth in these categories is the stuff of headlines. And, at least among some, the stigma of caring for oneself is a thing of the past
  • Men seek retail experiences (online and bricks-and-mortar) that cater to them 
    • No longer content to be relegated to the corner of a store devoted largely to women, men open their wallets when an environment and sales approach fits them better

  • Men embrace experiences that reaffirm or reconnect them with their masculinity
    • Guys still want to be guys. Win by delivering an experience that creates camaraderie and helps them feel they are expressing their manhood

  • Men are changing; diversity in attitudes, behaviors and self-expression are the rules versus the exceptions
    • Men are not stereotypes. Their interests are becoming as diverse as those of women. More dads stay at home. More work non-traditional jobs. More share in childcare. Talk not to one guy, but to the guy that really matters for your brand or product



Brands targeting men need to think broadly. It’s easy, and wrong-headed, to rely on a narrow view of what it means to be a man. There’s a guy out there that’s just right for what you have to offer. It just takes a little work to know whom he is and how to connect.

Here’s to a prosperous 2013.

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